Michael Cannon


My project is on the philosophy and ethics of artificial intelligence, and in particular the possibility of smarter-than-human AI and Superintelligence. The central question for the project is, supposing AI can become more intelligent than us, can it also become more ethical than us?

The possibility that Artificial Intelligence may supersede the intelligence of humans is seen by many as an Existential Risk and prompts the question of how we might build Safe, Friendly, Beneficial, and Ethical AI. To this end, I'm looking at how we might align the values of AI with human values, whatever they may be. There are some important assumptions throughout about mind, cognition, and morality which lead to very different pictures of the potential of AI systems. These include: the question of how we move from Narrow AI to General AI; whether General Intelligence is possible in computer systems or whether it is tied to life-regulation and biological systems; and, crucially, whether morality necessarily comes along for the ride with General Intelligence or whether it too is tied to something more messy than computational machines and hardware/software distinctions. My project aims to identify some of these key assumptions and discuss their implications in order to clarify the scope, plausibility, and moral status of Ethical AI in its various guises.

The specific areas I'm looking into for this are:

  • Comptuational Theory of Mind
  • 4 E's of cogntion: embodiment, embeddeness, extension, and enaction
    • Autopoiesis, Life and Mind
    • Consciousness, emergence, and "Strange Loops" 
  • Machine Ethics and Robot Ethics
    • Metaethics
    • Moral Status of AI and hypothetical Superintelligence
  • History of AI and current AI paradigm of Machine Learning

Research interests

Broader research interests include philosophical questions in:

  • Cognitive Science
  • Biology and Evolutionary Theory
  • Complex Systems Science

Most of my research interests fit into a broader curiosity about human potential, the future of humanity, and how we might get to a desirable future in one piece. “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology." - E. O. Wilson 

  • Emerging and exponential technologies
  • Civilisation design
    • Systems and incentive structures for human cooperation
      • "Finite and Infinite Games" (James P. Carse; Buckminster Fuller)
      •  Generator functions of XRisk (Daniel Schmactenberger and Charles Eistenstein)
    • 4th Industrial Revolution/ 2nd Machine Age and a "Singularity"
    • Zero-Marginal Cost Society (Jeremy Rifkin)
  • Meditation, Self, the landscape of possible conscious experiences
  • Human cognitive and physical performance; bio-hacking
  • Transhumanism


If I won the lottery, I'm pretty sure I would still being doing this project. But maybe skiing a bit more. Ice hockey too.

I wrote a blog once:



  • BA Philosophy (University of East Anglia)
  • MA Philosophy (Aarhus University)